Kurdistan region 'Iraq' (Aug
"Son of a
donkey". "Son of a whore".
The men in this Kurdish cafe in Kurdistan (northern
Iraq) hurled their curses at the television screen
as it showed Saddam Hussein in court in live
coverage of his trial for genocide on Monday.
As another spat in contempt, others shouted
"bastard", "swine", at the appearance of Saddam's
cousin, Ali Mahjid, or "Chemical Ali", also charged
with genocide in the killing of around 100,000 of
their people and destruction of 3,000 villages,
notably using chemical weapons.
Former dictator Saddam Hussein
Photo : AFP
"We are happy to see our sworn enemy Saddam before a
court," said Walid Khaled, 30, whose brother died in
1988 in Mangesh during the "Anfal Campaign" -- named
after the Arabic word for "spoils" and launched
according to the then-ruling regime to crush
dissident Kurds siding with Iran.
Suddenly, a power cut plunged this cafe in Dohuk,
the third main city of the Kurdish region, into
gloom, and blacked out the television.
"Even God doesn't want to listen to Saddam," came
the ironic comment from Ziad Faria Mohamed, aged 28,
whose father was killed during Anfal.
In the countryside, in villages leveled and strafed,
emptied of their occupants during Anfal, surviving
inhabitants somberly watch the trial of their
At Beshenki, some 50 kilometers (about 30 miles)
northeast of Duhok, the head of the village has made
sure that the community generator was working.
"I don't want to miss a moment of this trial. I've
waited for it forever," said Mohammed Hussein
Suleiman, at 72 years one of the elders of this
village of around 100 inhabitants.
"This trial is too merciful for him. The coalition
are going to leave him his life but he should be
dead. He does not merit still to be living.
"If you brought him here, you would see the sort of
trial that we would give him," said Suleiman.
Seventeen people in the tiny village were killed
during Anfal, while 10 were slain before the
official start of that campaign. Others told of
their flight to escape as relatives in other
villages were also slaughtered.
Some 30 men crowded around the television in the
village, taking the day off from work in the fields
so as not to miss the opening of the trial.
Mohamed Hussein Suleiman lost seven members of his
family, in Beshinki and other villagers; Tahar
Suleiman Ghazy, 60, lost 14 of his -- an uncle,
cousin and 12 nephews.
The trial brought back the hour-by-hour calvary of
his village which started in the morning of August
"The planes arrived and bombed the village and
nearby shelters. They used chemical weapons. We fled
towards the Turkish frontier," he said.
After several days with little food and hunted by
Iraqi troops, some of the inhabitants made it to
Turkey where they remained for three years. "Some of
the group preferred to surrender to the troops of
Saddam Hussein. They have never been seen since,"
When it was safe to return, under a Western military
umbrella some three years later, the residents
discovered just traces of ruins. The village had
been razed. A few stones, covered in fledgling
vegetation, were still visible and were used for a
start in rebuilding.
"When I saw this, I said 'may God bear witness'. May
he (Saddam) be judged," said Suleiman, adding that
they would have preferred the ousted dictator to be
judged in Kurdistan. "There would be only one
possible sentence: death."
Lezguine Khazem, who was 19 at the time of Anfal,
commented: "If there had not been foreign
intervention after (Iraq's invasion of) Kuwait, I
have no doubt that Kurdistan would have been wiped
from the map."
Ghazy again cursed Saddam: "He killed babies still
being breast-fed, infants, women. It was genocide
that he would have committed. If I could speak to
him I would demand 'why, why', what crimes had these